Fact. Have you ever seen a pigeon play Ping-Pong? Well through simple animal training techniques this is an actuality. Using a couple simple training techniques an animal behaviorist, named B.F. Skinner, was able to teach two pigeons to play during World War II. Skinner later had the idea based off of the Ping-Pong experiment to use pigeons to help guide missiles to specific targets during the war. In theory the pigeons would help to avoid human causalities from fighter pilots getting shot down, as the pigeons were much smaller targets. Although, Skinner's theories about pigeon guided missiles was never actually attempted during the war.
Skinner used a technique called shaping by successive approximations, or shaping. Shaping is used to achieve a particular behavior by finding one that is close to the desired behavior and then slowly "fading" out the behaviors closer and closer to the desire one. Skinner also used chaining, which links two smaller behaviors, that are easier to train, together. By doing this, the animal is cued from the second behavior by merely doing the first and so on. With the successful chaining of the two behaviors, Skinner was able to teach the pigeons to play a seemingly never-ending game of Ping-Pong.
In fact Skinner's techniques on animal training are still used by animal trainers today.
To view the pigeons playing Ping-Pong click here.